Civil Society in Authoritarian Regimes

24th January 2018
Author: Dylan O'Driscoll

This rapid review synthesises findings from rigorous academic, practitioner, and policy references on the role of civil society in promoting social accountability in authoritarian regimes and the ways donors can support them. The main geographic focus of this report is East Africa, with a secondary focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. In the African context civil society is best defined as ‘a public sphere of formal or informal, collective activity autonomous from but recognizing the legitimate existence of the state’ (Orvis, 2001: 20). Whereas social accountability is best defined as ‘an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement, i.e., in which it is ordinary citizens and/or civil society organizations who participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability’ (Malena, Forster and Singh, 2004: 1).

Download Report
Suggested Citation

O’Driscoll, D. (2018). Civil Society in Authoritarian Regimes. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies


24th January 2018


Continent: Africa